recordings & shop
May 2013: ‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey / Shallow Brown’ (7” single with download)
A: Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey
B: Shallow Brown
After a year and a half away, writing, recording and curating projects, ‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey’ / ‘Shallow Brown’ 7” will be Rob’s first release since ‘Weald’. It follows recent work on Lancastrian history, myth and folklore with the Folklore Tapes label in Manchester, curating the successful ‘Pendle, 1612’ project (in collaboration with Dylan Carlson, Dean McPhee, David A Jaycock and others). This release, orchestrated by the Coven Choir of Tom Western, Bart Owl, Malcolm Benzie and Owen Williams, continues in the same exploratory sonic vein.
‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey’ is a Lancastrian song originally sung to Cecil Sharp by J Collinson of Casterton, Lancashire in 1905. A song of the Industrial Revolution: crumbling mill towns butting up against moorland and trees growing out of chimneys. Recorded in a north Edinburgh living room, drums pick up a faint motorik beat on a pommel horse and cymbals strewn across the floor; organs wash in a lysergic smear of 60s psych-folk; recorder and fiddle pick a fractured Maher Shalal Hash Baz-esq melody; and a chorus of voices sing together.
‘Shallow Brown’ is a West Indian sea shanty collected by H.E. Piggott and Percy Grainger from the singing of John Perring in Dartmouth, Devon in 1908. The spirit of this version traces an imaginary line to Sunderland Point on the tip of the Lune estuary in Lancashire, a thriving port for slave ships and press gangs until siltation forced a steady decline in the late 1700s.
The ‘Charcoal Black and the Bonny Grey’ / ‘Shallow Brown’ 7” will be released on 01 May 2013, limited to 250 copies with artwork by David Chatton Barker (Folklore Tapes / Finders Keepers).
November 2011: ‘Weald’ (12” gatefold LP, CD and digital download)
01. Your Phantom Limb
02. Sargasso Sea (free download)
03. Vanishing Points
04. The Acid Test
01. Stainforth Force
03. Emma’s Dance
04. An Empty House
Recorded early 2011 in Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge by Neil Pennycook, Ian Humberstone and Andrew Warne
Produced by Neil Pennycook, except ‘Your Phantom Limb’ by Ian Humberstone. Mastered by Reuben Taylor.
12” LP: SOLD OUT
Also available at Avalanche Records, Edinburgh, Monorail, Glasgow and other good independent record shops
October 2011: ‘Your Phantom Limb’ (Split 7” single and download) with Ian Humberstone ‘House on the Hill’
A: Your Phantom Limb
AA: House on the Hill
Recorded and produced December 2010 in Cambridge by Ian Humberstone. Mastered by Reuben Taylor.
November 2008: ‘Like Alchemy’ EP (CD). 250 copies on recycled, hand stamped and numbered packaging.
2) Paper Ships
3) A Red Heron
4) The Wicker Basket
November 2007: ‘Tipping In’ EP (CD). 100 copies on recycled, numbered packaging.
Endless CD-Rs and tapes of first track recordings, hastily burnt or laboriously PLAY+RECORDED, wrapped in packaging salvaged from 1960s National Geographics or printed on wrapping paper with smudged ink stamp tree leaves, scrawled on in sharpie and sold at shows. A good few hundred in existence. I just don’t know quite where.
July 2012: ‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’
About 15 minutes of new music for the ‘The Bruce Lacey Experience’ soundtrack. Details from The Quietus:
Lovingly assembled by Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller and occasional tQ scribe Nick Abrahams, The Bruce Lacey Experience profiles the multi-faceted artist, robot maker, absurdist director and subject of Ken Russell’s 1962 TV short The Preservation Man (not to mention lawn mowing guest star in The Beatles’ movie Help!). In addition to looking back at his celebrated counterculture happenings, the 70-minute piece promises to “present new pranks and performance art undertaken by Lacey, taking in visits to his artefact-strewn Norfolk farmhouse, the IWM Duxford aircraft museum and the vaults of the Tate.”
The documentary receives its world premiere at BFI Southbank this Thursday July 5, followed by a conversation with ‘Professor’ Lacey himself - now a sprightly 85 years old - plus the filmmakers. Tickets for the event can be purchased from here. The Bruce Lacey Experience will then screen at an exhibition of the same name at Camden Arts Centre from July 7 to September 16, co-curated by Deller and art historian Professor David Alan Mellor. It is also set to be released as an extra later this month on the double-disc BFI DVD The Lacey Rituals: Films By Bruce Lacey (And Friends) 1951-2012.
‘Pendle, 1612’ | Lancashire Folklore Tapes | Nov 2012
Curated by Rob St John and David Chatton Barker, and limited to 200 copies, the tapes are packaged in a screen printed heritage library buckram box which houses information and ephemera related to the trials: a map, photographs, an essay by the curators, and a dried nettle in glassvine envelope as well as a download code.
‘Pendle, 1612’ is the first release through the new Lancashire Folk Tapes imprint, following the continuing Devon Folklore series of limited edition tape releases exploring British folklore.
This release is a commemoration and remembrance to the Pendle Witch trials - a reminder of the rich, dark and entangled histories that are increasingly paved over and forgotten by contemporary celebrations.
Available through Folklore Tapes, Finders Keepers, Boomkat, Norman’s Records, Rough Trade and Mount Analog. There is also a copy in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House and the British Library in London.
1. Drcarlsonalbion And The Hackney Lass - Thee Betrothal of Alizon Device.
2. Dean McPhee - Rule of Threes.
3. Tom Western - Alice Nutter.
4. David A Jaycock - Black Malkin Tower.
5. Rob St.John & The Coven Choir – The Mandrake.
1. Bridget Hayden - Music In the Rocks.
2. Magpahi - The Power And The Glory.
3. Mary Arches - Hex Snoxums.
4. N.Racker - A New Maleficium.
5. Joe Duddell - Pendle Elegy
Wire Tapper #338 | Sun Araw | April 2012: ‘Your Phantom Limb’
February 2009: “Flameless Electric Heat”, Mathilde Records Tape Compilation
The second Mathilde release “Flameless Electric Heat” is a lovingly crafted international compilation tape featuring DIY musicians from France, England, the U.S., Canada and Scotland. Hearts thumping in your pocket. This is a limited release for £3 ppd to the UK and features almost entirely exclusive material from: The Hailstones, Francois, Rob St John, Vase, Your Heart Breaks, Tissø Lake, Waterboatmen, The Great Bear, Lightening Tree Singers feat. members of Waterboatmen, LAKE and T.L., Brooke Manning, Library Band, Tek Paste.
December 2010: ‘The Whites of Our Eyes’, charity collaboration with Braindead Collective in aid of Shelter
The Whites of our Eyes is the 7 minute long, improvised result of the first collaboration between Oxford / London kraut-jazz-drone experimentalists Braindead Collective (featuring members of Guillemots, The Epstein, Keyboard Choir and others), and the Scotland-via-Lancashire purveyor of lo-fi creaks and drones, Rob St.John.
The collaboration is the second in a series of winter singles initiated by the Braindead Collective - 2009’s track ‘When it was Nice’ was written and recorded with Viv Albertine from The Slits. The single is released on a pay-what-you-can basis, with all proceeds going to the charity Shelter.
Recorded on the coldest day of a freezing British winter in Oxford’s oldest church – St.Michael’s on Cornmarket St – by microphones strategically strewn from pews and rafters, it captures the sound of a band reshaping and remaking the song in response to each other’s improvisations.
August 2010: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (Sparklehorse cover) on ‘Gold Day: The Songs Of Linkous, Smith and Chesnutt’ in aid of Depression Alliance